Arch Dis Child doi:10.1136/archdischild-2012-302263
  • Original article

Systematic review and meta-analyses of risk factors for childhood overweight identifiable during infancy

Open AccessPress Release
  1. Cristine P Glazebrook5
  1. 1Division of Epidemiology and Public Health, School of Community Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  2. 2School of Nursing, Midwifery and Physiotherapy, University of Nottingham, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK
  3. 3Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington Campus, Loughborough, UK
  4. 4Nottingham Clinical Trials Unit, Nottingham Health Science Partners, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham, UK
  5. 5Division of Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham Innovation Park, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Cris Glazebrook, Division of Psychiatry, Institute of Mental Health, University of Nottingham Innovation Park, Nottingham NG7 2TU, UK; Cris.Glazebrook{at}
  • Received 30 April 2012
  • Accepted 21 August 2012
  • Published Online First 29 October 2012


Objective To determine risk factors for childhood overweight that can be identified during the first year of life to facilitate early identification and targeted intervention.

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Search strategy Electronic database search of MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed and CAB Abstracts.

Eligibility criteria Prospective observational studies following up children from birth for at least 2 years.

Results Thirty prospective studies were identified. Significant and strong independent associations with childhood overweight were identified for maternal pre-pregnancy overweight, high infant birth weight and rapid weight gain during the first year of life. Meta-analysis comparing breastfed with non-breastfed infants found a 15% decrease (95% CI 0.74 to 0.99; I2=73.3%; n=10) in the odds of childhood overweight. For children of mothers smoking during pregnancy there was a 47% increase (95% CI 1.26 to 1.73; I2=47.5%; n=7) in the odds of childhood overweight. There was some evidence associating early introduction of solid foods and childhood overweight. There was conflicting evidence for duration of breastfeeding, socioeconomic status at birth, parity and maternal marital status at birth. No association with childhood overweight was found for maternal age or education at birth, maternal depression or infant ethnicity. There was inconclusive evidence for delivery type, gestational weight gain, maternal postpartum weight loss and ‘fussy’ infant temperament due to the limited number of studies.

Conclusions Several risk factors for both overweight and obesity in childhood are identifiable during infancy. Future research needs to focus on whether it is clinically feasible for healthcare professionals to identify infants at greatest risk.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: and

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